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Chehayeb: Safeguarding Lebanon is priority

Minister Akram Chehayeb arrives at the Parliament in Beirut, Monday, June 9, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb said Sunday that the Lebanese should give priority to safeguarding their country from the fallout of raging conflicts sweeping the region, by first electing a new president of the republic.

“Our reality is bitter and harsh, and we need to act rationally to face this situation where people in Gaza are being assassinated, Iraq is dismembered and Syrians are slaughtered as the world is watching,” Chehayeb said, at the inauguration of a new municipality building in Baawarta, east of Beirut.

Chehayeb, of Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), warned that the spillover of the raging Syrian conflict is threatening Lebanon’s mere existence, and causing the collapse of the state’s institutions.

“We raise our voice again to say enough drowning in the Syrian war ... It is about time we realize that our country’s salvation can be achieved by refocusing on Lebanon’s interior and boosting its immunization,” Shehayeb said, in obvious allusion to Hezbollah’s military role in Syria.

“We should first end presidential vacuum, because the persistence of void is threatening all institutions, and second [we should] reinstate life in Parliament and ensure its efficient and proper functioning,” Chehayeb told the inauguration ceremony in Baawarta, also attended by Hezbollah representatives.

The PSP minister urged politicians to preserve PM Tammam Salam’s all-embracing government by facilitating presidential election and consequently paving the ground for parliamentary polls.

Chehayeb also deplored Lebanon’s deepening economic problems, exacerbated by rampant insecurity in the region around it, saying “the economic stress under which the majority of Lebanese are reeling need to be settled in a quick and rational way, notably through endorsing salary scale adjustment for public employees.”

 

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